Last night around seven, my client called me crying.
I don’t think it was a mistake that I had accidentally left my phone on.
Because my phone was on, I was able to talk to her when she really needed me, and then, when words stopped being appropriate, I was able to just sit here with her while she cried.
Sometimes people aren’t ready to be built back up. Sometimes they aren’t ready to be encouraged or validated. Sometimes they don’t want to HEAR or PROCESS anything. Sometimes they just don’t have the strength to try and get their hearts or minds to believe anything other than what they’re feeling.
And that’s okay because, as my clients are forever teaching me, just sitting with someone while they cry can be as powerful a form of therapy as anything they taught me in school.
Even though I cannot take care of myself right now, even though I’m really struggling… God is still using me. That’s a bafflingly beautiful thing. Only He could use me in this place I’m in. Only He could give me family who loves me even when I’m awkward and depressed and insecure and have literally no words in my head to make conversation.
Our God is so, so big.
Help me not doubt that You are bigger than anything I am or am not.
Paint my life, Lord. Color it beautiful. Stain it with Your undeniable presence and holiness. I need You. Desperately, I need You.
As a therapist, I’m not supposed to hug my clients.
However, often they hug me.
And that brings tears to my eyes.
Because even though I feel like I have nothing to offer the world right now,
I’m obviously doing something right if my clients want to hug me.
All I can do right now is show up. I show up and I care. That’s all I have to offer.
But maybe that’s enough. Because where I go, the Holy Spirit within me also goes.
I was laying in bed last night, struggling to fall asleep, when I suddenly became acutely aware of my limbs. I became aware of my heartbeat. My skin.
My eyes and my smile and my hair, all chosen by God.
He knows me. He knows how I sleep and what makes me cry and He, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge gave me cheeks that redden and hair that curls and a tender heart.
He made me quick to love and quick to cry and gentle and quiet and goofy.
He gave me a love for singing and failed to give me a Grammy-award-winning voice to go with it. And that wasn’t a mistake.
There is nothing about me that is a mistake.
I look at my hands and I think, “God gave me these. God chose my hands. He chose the length of my fingers and placed each freckle just where He wanted it.” I am, from head to toe, chosen and designed by the God of the universe. And He knows me.
And I laid in bed last night, overwhelmed by the miracle of being a living being in a body. I exist.
I exist, and it’s a miracle, and yet that’s not where the miracles stop. I exist, I have this life and this body, and yet I am MORE than this life or this body.
I have limbs.
I have a voice that can sing and eyes that can cry and a heart that beats fast when I’m scared.
I have a brain that can contemplate deep thoughts and a heart that can hold dear memories and I can snap and skip and laugh and even whistle when I try really hard.
I have a body, but I am more. I know that I know that I know that I will exist beyond this life.
And I know that I’m not a mistake. I know that God didn’t design me from head to toe and then place me on this earth to suffer and struggle and wait for heaven. Heaven is our home, yes, but this life is a gift. It’s a gift and we’re meant to live it fully.
When I look in the mirror, when I look at my face, the face that God gave me, I see that I am not a mistake. I am not insignificant. I matter.
I see how much detail and love God put into creating me, and in the length of my eyelashes and the funny shape of my ears and the poignant hope that fills my heart when I reflect on how much God loves me, I hear Him saying that HE HAS A PLAN.
He planned my date of birth and my skin color and the size of my feet, and it would be completely insane to think He placed me here on this planet with a “good luck, don’t forget to call!” and started being involved in my life and existence in a more “supervisory” way.
He is still intimately involved. If He cared to place my freckles one my one, certainly He hasn’t stopped caring. HE HAS A PLAN.
He has a plan FOR ME.
Me. With my awkwardness and emotional baggage and tendency to despair. He has a plan for me. My story is ongoing for a reason. I am here for a reason.
I have skin and a heartbeat and eyes that see FOR A REASON.
I don’t feel that in my heart right now. Every day feels impossibly hard and just breathing moment to moment feels like more than I can handle, but last night my brain told my heart it didn’t get to have an opinion anymore. Or, rather, it could have an opinion, but its opinion would be met with a compassionate hug rather than serious consideration.
Last night the truth that God has a plan for me and my life, even in this messy and broken state, hit me like science. It was like someone dropped a highly researched, 100-page article on my chest. Facts and figures and statistics and proven hypotheses. Truth. Unarguable truth.
I am not a mistake.
I am not just a product of my parents.
I am God’s.
And He has a plan for me.
I don’t know what that plan is. I don’t know when I’ll feel okay again. But I will keep breathing.
And when I forget, when I start to think there is no hope, when panic threatens to overwhelm me, I’ll look down at my hands. The hands that God made.
And the hands He is still holding tight to.
I started to cry at a client’s house today. She lost her baby when she was 38 weeks pregnant.
She has baby stuff and no baby to use it.
She had planned on being a mom, having a baby to bathe and feed and wake up to in the middle of the night, and now her future is a question mark.
It is heartbreaking. Completely unfathomably heart-wrenching.
But her story is ongoing. And her baby existed for a reason. And I know that.
And I looked at my client with love and compassion and a heart full of prayers for her, prayers for her to be okay again in a way more complete than I am able to help her be. And I told her, “You’re still your baby’s mom, it just looks different than you expected. But you will see her again. I KNOW there is a heaven. And I KNOW your baby is happy. And I KNOW you will be reunited again someday.”
And I said those words, and I didn’t expect it, but my eyes filled with tears. And I think that’s what can happen when you speak truth to someone. Your heart recognizes it as truth, and the beauty of that truth, the truth that this life is just a blink and our suffering is temporary, it overwhelms our hearts with joy and gratitude. And hope.
I exist. And I will continue to exist.
Jesus, hold me. I cannot do a single day without You. I need you every single second.
With all that I have left within me, I will hope. I will inhale and exhale my way through today as best as I can, and I will try not to think too much about tomorrow. I will fill my brain instead with truth. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, I don’t know when or how or I’ll feel okay again, but I know who You are. You are God. And You love me. And I am planned.
And that’s the truth.
On Friday, a client called me crying. It wasn’t the first time a client has called me in tears, of course, but this time I really wasn’t expecting it. She had been doing so well just a few days prior.
Fortunately, I was able to drop what I was doing and head her way. When I got there, she was standing at the door, waiting for me, tears pooling in her red-rimmed eyes.
And seeing her there, just waiting for my car, no hope in the world beyond my arrival, the compassion in me grew to something mammoth-sized. I didn’t have a plan for her problem, I didn’t have a solution, all I had to offer was my presence. I got out of my car, and I walked over to her, and I hugged her.
We aren’t supposed to hug our clients, but in that moment, her title as Fellow Human Being loomed much larger than her title of Client. Hugging my client in that moment felt like one of the most important things I’ve done for anyone thus far in my career.
I wrapped my arms around her and I rubbed her shoulder, and we stood like that in the doorway for a long time.
I think we like to believe there’s a solution for everything. An answer to every problem. And usually there are things we can do to improve our situation, steps we can take or changes we can make or people we can ask for help, but not always. And often, those things cannot be implemented immediately. Often, at least for the moment, we have no other option but to sit and feel our pain.
After all, how many times when I’m crying is God’s response just to sit down beside me and hold me? Yes, He is always acting in my best interest, but my tears don’t often illicit immediate change. Often, He just lets me cry.
There must be a reason for that. My own tears usually feel annoyingly unproductive and pointless to me. But God must know something I don’t about allowing one’s self to cry.
He sees every tear that falls.
Our earthly parents delight in our existence- our long toes or crooked smile or the random freckle on our earlobe, it all matters to them. They keep baby teeth and locks of hair from our first haircuts. And how much more does the Father love us?! After all, He is our Creator! It was He who chose to give us that freckle; it was He who custom-designed our smile. Everything from our long toes to the hair growing from our heads matters to Him, and our tears are no exception.
The beauty of knowing that I matter to God? It’s overwhelming. Even if that’s all I have, I am blessed.
He loves me, my heart matters to Him, He sees every tear that falls- my pain, our pain, isn’t for naught. If He’s allowing it, and He is Love, then there’s a reason.
If I didn’t have my faith, however, which is where a lot of my clients are, what would I have? I cannot imagine how hard life would be if I didn’t know Jesus.
Even with my faith, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do in those moments when the world flips off its light and everything fades to black, and all you’re left with is sorrow and anger and your heartbeat loud and echo-y in your ears.
And when the world does go black, and all we’re left with is our own heartbeat and tears? The worse part about that, to me, is being unseen. We can see no positive future for ourselves, no hope… and no one can see us. I think that, faster than anything else, can suck the air out of a room.
And yet, God uses that too. “Breathe,” He whispers. And so you do. You inhale and exhale and just take it one breath at a time, and you realize that even when you’re alone and completely incapable of seeing what next steps to take in your life, and you don’t even know how you’ll ever gather the willpower to get yourself up off the ground, you’re not really alone. And you realize that, if you were never alone with your suffering, you might not appreciate the Lord in quite the same way. When you have nothing, you still have Him. And that’s a lot.
Sometimes the only thing to do is cry. Sit and feel our pain and wait and cry. And pray. Even if the prayer is only “Abba” repeated over and over again.
The perspective of a night or a day or a week or a month in a black-as-night world? I think it has made me a better therapist. Especially knowing that, as hard as those times were for me, it’s infinitely harder for my clients who don’t know the Lord. Truly, they have nothing.
As I drove away from my client’s house on Friday, my own eyes burned with tears, but not tears of sorrow, tears of gratitude. How fortunate I am to be able to step in to so many lives when things have gone dark. And how lucky I am to know God, to have Him model for me the best way to love the precious people He brings into my life.
Sometimes it’s just us and our tears. But if we’re lucky, sometimes someone, or Someone, will sit down next to us in the dark and wrap us in their arms.